Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 June 2007 19:16
ARTIST: Empty Zen
ALBUM: Empty Zen
LABEL: Backwards Records
REVIEWER: Matthew J.
Bringing a more organic, rock-based feel to experimental techno, Empty Zen's self-titled CD combines the usual glitches and breakbeats with subtle psychedelic guitars, pianos, and even the occasional vocal, making this a much less abstract release that will still nonetheless appeal to fans of Aphex Twin and Boards Of Canada. There's a subtle dub influence here that renders the slow trip-hop rhythm of tracks like "Absolutely" and "After" more primal; while the synthesized tones and snappy drum beats are cold and mechanical, the bass still hits booty more than brain. Likewise, "Trois" uses slide guitar for a sense of melancholy that's a lot warmer than you'd expect from an avant-garde trip-hop piece, while "Dada" is distinctive for its full-sounding rock drums, drenched in reverb though they may be. Lest you think this is some god-awful rock crossover thing, there's also plenty of more purely electronic material in evidence; "Defied" is mellow but glitchy, while "Separation" combines subdued drum 'n' bass rhythms with blissed out piano tones. "Over and Over" is also worth a mention; with richly layered guitars and ethereal female vocals layered over a deep but soothing hip-hop beat, it's lovely enough to appeal to people who aren't even electronic music fans. That pretty much defines what makes Empty Zen's music so compelling in the first place; it's clearly experimental techno, but it's got enough other interesting things going on that you don't have to be a purist to enjoy it.
Get your fix of Empty Zen enlightenment at www.emptyzen.com.